Class X Democratic Politics | Chapter 2 Federalism | Decentralisation In India

Q. What is meant by decentralization?

A. When power is taken away from the central and state governments and given to local government it is called decentralisation of power.

Q. Why is decentralisation essential in India?
OR
Why India cannot be run through two tiers of government?
OR
What is the rationale behind decentralization of power?

A. A vast country like India cannot be run only through these two tiers of government. States in India are as large as some independent countries of Europe. In terms of population, Uttar Pradesh is bigger than Russia, Maharashtra is as big as Germany. Many of these states are internally very diverse. There is thus a need of power sharing within these states. Federal power sharing in India needs another tier of government, below that of the state governments.
This is the rationale for decentralisation of power. This led to a third tier of government called local government.

Q. Explain the basic idea behind decentralisation?

A. The basic idea behind decentralization is that there are large numbers of problems and issues which are best settled at the local level. People have better knowledge of problems in their localities. They also have better ideas on where to spend money and how to manage things more efficiently. Besides, at the local level it is possible for the people to directly participate in decision making. This helps to inculcate a habit of democratic participation.
Local government is the best way to realize one important principle of democracy, namely local self government.

Q. What was the condition of decentralisation in India prior to 1992?
OR
Thus there was very little decentralization in effective terms prior to 1992. Explain.

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A. Panchayats in villages and municipalities in urban areas were set up in all the states.  But these were directly under the control of the state governments. Elections to these local governments were not held regularly.  Local governments did not have any powers or resources of their own. Thus, there was very little decentralization in effective terms.

Q. What was the amendment that was made in the constitution in 1992 to make the third tier of government more effective and powerful?

  • Now it is constitutionally mandatory to hold regular elections to local government bodies.
  • Seats are reserved in the elected bodies and the executive heads of these institutions for the scheduled castes, schedules tribes and other backward classes.
  • At least one third of all positions are reserved for women.
  • An independent institution called the state election commission has been created in each state to conduct panchayat and municipal elections.
  • The state governments are required to share powers and revenue with the local governments. The nature of sharing varies from state to state.

Q. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of decentralization in India.

A. ADVANTAGES

  • There are a large number of problems and issues which are best settled at the local level.
  • People have better knowledge of problems in their localities. They also have better ideas on where to spend money and how to manage things more efficiently.
  • Besides, at the local level it is possible for the people to directly participate in decision making. This helps to inculcate a habit of democratic participation.
  • Local government is the best way to realize one important principle of democracy, namely local self government.
  • There are now about thirty six lakh elected representatives in the panchayat and municipalities etc., all over the country. This number is bigger than the population of some independent countries in the world.
    Constitutional status for local government has helped to deepen democracy in our country.
  • It has also increased women’s representation and voice in our democracy.
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DISADVANTAGES

  • While elections are held regularly and enthusiastically, gram sabhas are not held regularly.
  • Most state governments have not transferred significant powers to the local governments nor have they given adequate resources.

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